Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Stephen Colbert frees Birthday song for Yo Yo Ma


Did you notice?

Stephen Colbert's new Late Show is a success all on its own and breaking new ground in the genre is becoming the norm.

He sings, he dances and he tells a pretty good joke.  He's topically relevant with all the witty repertoire of his previous show and then some.

He's been unchained from a role that if we paid close attention to wasn't really that far from the "Real" Stephen Colbert we enjoy on the Late Show.

Which means he's not afraid to mix it up a bit and set a precedent or two.   Who else would have famous Cellist Yo Yo Ma sit in with a jazz band the entire show and wrap up with a rousing chorus of the "Happy Birthday" song.

Which is a precedent in itself.  

Until recently, "Happy Birthday" was considered a copyrighted work and any performance of it from a late night talk show to a kid's birthday party was deemed infringement without express permission and royalty payments.  

Meaning you didn't hear it much on TV.

All that went out the window last month with the pounding of Judge George H. King's gavel.  Meaning the beloved melody can now be belted out freely by tone deaf parents and talk show hosts everywhere without fear.

Last night was the first time since the ruling that a public performance of the song was heard on broadcast television.  Thus giving Colbert credit for yet another precedent while he and the audience serenaded Yo Yo Ma with the song in celebration of Ma's 60th birthday.

It was even more meaningful than John McCain getting booed by Colbert's audience for an off-handed remark against the Obama administration.  

It's better to elevate a tiny triumph of justice than a tired bit of political pandering.  Even if it's only a silly song sung at birthday parties.


It's Colbert's knack for bringing a little bit of nothing to light that can actually be a lot of something if you bother to pay attention...